Harvey Weinstein has been fired from the independent film company he co-founded and catapulted to Oscar glory, felled by a mushrooming sexual harassment scandal that has hobbled his status as a media mogul and left his future in Hollywood in jeopardy. The Weinstein Company’s board of directors has voted to remove Weinstein from the studio, leaving control of the company in the hands of Weinstein’s brother, Bob Weinstein, and chief operating officer David Glasser, it was announced in a statement from the company Sunday.
“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company — Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar — have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” the statement reads.
Weinstein has been rocked by a devastating New York Times report documenting decades of legal settlements stemming from sexual harassment allegations leveled by former employees and associates, as well as accusations of improper sexual advances from actress Ashley Judd. The allegations extend back to Weinstein’s days running Miramax, an independent film studio that was then owned by the Walt Disney Co.
It is a stunning fall from power for the mogul, whose tenacity and ruthlessness put him at the nexus of Hollywood, Wall Street, and the Beltway. Not just a movie producer, Weinstein was also a political player and major force in New York City and Hollywood’s cultural and corporate life. The scandal is the latest in a long line of entertainers and moguls, from Roger Ailes to Bill O’Reilly to Bill Cosby, who have been brought low by accusations of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Weinstein did not agree to leave the company, and there is no financial settlement in place, according to an insider. He has been fired for cause after the board met on Sunday, having spent most of the weekend trying to hammer out a deal for Weinstein to leave. Weinstein controls roughly 20% of the company.
On Friday, the Weinstein Company board suspended Weinstein and said there would be an internal investigation headed by attorney John Kiernan of the firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. The investigation will continue despite the fact that Weinstein has been fired.
As the crisis worsened, Weinstein lost key allies. His attorney Lisa Bloom resigned on Saturday, as did his advisor Lanny Davis, a former White House hand to Bill Clinton. One third of the all-male board quit on Friday, including billionaire investors Marc Lasry and Dirk Ziff, and Technicolor executive Tim Sarnoff. Weinstein was said to be furiously resisting efforts to force him out permanently.
New accusers have also come forward, including Lauren Sivan, a former Fox News reporter and a reporter at KTTV, who said Weinstein once masturbated in front of her after cornering her in a restaurant. On Sunday, U.K. freelance writer Liza Campbell said Weinstein asked her to jump in a bath with him when she showed up to his hotel for a business meeting.
He has also struggled with forming a coherent response, veering from contrition to combativeness. An initial statement to the Times acknowledged past mistakes, while pledging to reform himself. Shortly after, Weinstein’s attorney Charles Harder said he was preparing to sue the paper, accusing it of making “false and defamatory statements.” Weinstein also said he was taking a leave of absence, only to continue appearing at work. The board later forced him to take an indefinite leave on Friday.
Bob Weinstein and Glasser had been pushing for Weinstein to leave the company, believing he threatened the studio’s ability to continue to attract top talent and to release film and television shows. Weinstein maintained that he could weather the crisis and re-emerge as a player in Hollywood. He spent the weekend in Los Angeles pleading his case.
However, he quickly found himself without support in the entertainment industry. Prominent actors such as Seth Rogen, Lena Dunham, Brie Larson, and Judd Apatow have voiced support for Weinstein’s accusers while condemning Weinstein. Meanwhile, prominent Democrats such as Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Patrick Leahy have distanced themselves from Weinstein, channeling his political donations to charity. Members of the creative community and talent agencies told Weinstein executives that they would continue to work with the company provided Harvey Weinstein was ousted, according to an insider.
Weinstein has been a major force in independent film for decades, helping bring art house movies such as “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Crying Game” to mass audiences, and propelling the likes of “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love” to commercial success and awards glory.